Unique puffin population of Reykjavík deserves to be protected
Every visitor to Reykjavík has seen the thousands of puffins peering out at passers-by from the windows of the many souvenir shops. But did you know that the capital also holds a pretty sizable population of actual puffins? 40-60.000 adult birds to be exact.
The puffin capital
Akurey-island, west of the old harbour in Reykjavík, is one of the many breeding grounds of this beautiful little bird. Akurey is a tiny island, one of the smallest in the Faxaflói bay, measuring only 300 meters (just 0.2 miles) where it is widest. Still it is home to 20-30.000 breeding pairs of puffin, making it one of the most densely population neighbourhoods of Reykjavík.
Although the puffin population of Akurey might seem impressive it is still only a tiny fraction of the total puffin population of Iceland. It is estimated that the total population exceeds ten million birds in a good year. The puffin is the most populous bird in Iceland.
A threatened bird
The puffin has been in retreat in Iceland in the past twelve years. The reason is climate change and changing temperatures in the ocean around Iceland. The Puffin feeds on the lesser sand eel, and a generous catch of sand eels is critical for the young. When the sand eel schools are small, which they have been in the past few years, the puffin population suffers.
The puffin colonies in Western and Southern Iceland have therefore been in retreat for the past few years, while those in Northern Iceland are still going strong.
A safe haven for puffins in the Capital
Recently Bird Life Iceland, an organization fighting for the protection and conservation of Icelandic birds and their habitats, asked the City of Reykjavík to permanently protect the Island. Erpur Snær Hansen, an ornithologist at the Southern Iceland Institute of Natural History told the the National Broadcasting Service that the puffin population of Reykjavík deserved to be protected.
Before the crash of 2008 hit ambitious plans were floated to develop the island as a part of project to reclaim land west of the old harbour. Erpur argues it is important to protect the puffin from such developments. Akurey is owned by the municipal authority.
Erpur argues the puffin colony is globally unique: "Any sea-bird colony with more than ten thousand breeding pairs is considered a large colony, and to have such a colony within the city limits is extremely enjoyable, and there is every reason to ensure it will remain there for future generations."
Ever dreamed of a second home in a fishing village in the Westfjords? Now's your chance!
This day in history: The sinking of whaling vessels in Reykjavík harbour was "Iceland's 9/11"
Kitten TV "Kattarshians" coming to the US: Best thing to come out of Iceland since Björk
Ask the Expert
Elves and hidden people: Do Icelanders really believe in elves?
Food & Drink
Don't miss the annual Icelandic Meat Soup Day in downtown Reykjavík on Saturday
Food & Drink
The five best places for brunch in Reykjavík
Photos: Walking paths at Víti crater lake turned into mudfields: 'Worst I have seen'
Photos: This year's pysja rescue confirms 2017 was best year on record for pufflings
Photos: Icelanders celebrate the win over Kosovo which secured a spot at the World Cup
Brush up on your Icelandic by singing world's hardest karaoke song
Follow Iceland Mag
Join our weekly hand curated newsletter to have all the latest news from Iceland sent to you
Don't worry, we won't spam you. Promise!
Watch a video of a RV get blown off the road just north of Reykjavík
Chris Burkard: "Iceland is one of the most beautiful locations in the world"
Meet the friends of Iceland!
Want to know what you are eating at an Icelandic Þorrablót? Here's your answer!
Vikings had a dark sense of humour, reveals Irish academic
An American in Reykjavik: A list of Icelandic souvenirs worth buying
Cuteness overload: A video of a litter of Arctic fox pups explore the world for the first time
Watch a selection of the most amazing Hollywood movie scenes shot in Iceland
Magical beauty of Icelandic landscapes captured in this award winning time-lapse video
Superb short film featuring breathtaking drone footage shot along the Ring Road One
Video: The stunning beauty of the Diamond Beach and other wonders of South Iceland